Cuyahoga Land Bank may be re-tooled to focus on home rehabilitation rather than demolition

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Cuyahoga Land Bank may be re-tooled to focus on home rehabilitation rather than demolition

November 5, 2018 [Courtney Astolfi,]

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County officials have begun discussions about transitioning the county’s land bank from a demolition-focused program to one centered around rehabilitating homes in disrepair. 

The plans are preliminary, and Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady said Monday that council probably will not vote on possible changes to the land bank until next year. 

Brady said council is working with the land bank and County Executive Armond Budish’s administration to form the new plan. 

The land bank, formally known as the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, was established in 2009 to address the foreclosure crisis that left a large number of blighted properties across the county. 

As of November 2018, the land bank had demolished 7,127 properties throughout the county and rehabilitated 1,761 properties, land bank President Gus Frangos told a county council committee on Monday. He estimated the land bank’s work has generated $400 to $600 million of economic impact over that time. 

Frangos said the rate of homes being vacated or abandoned has dropped significantly 10 years out from the foreclosure crisis. 

The land bank will now have to “begin transitioning” because federal funds and county demolition money are set to run out in 2020, Frangos said. 

The land bank has funded its operations through $7 million it taps annually from money collected on delinquent property taxes. 

Cuyahoga County Council last passed legislation authorizing this allocation of money to the land bank in 2013. That authorization ends at the end of 2018. 

To tide the land bank over until decisions are made about transitioning to a rehabilitation-focused program, council is considering legislation that will extend the authorization for those funds for one more year. 

Any changes that are made to the land bank’s mission will be vetted by council first, Brady said. 

“The land bank can’t do this without council’s [approval].” Brady told after Monday’s committee meeting. “It will be thoroughly debated if we want to go in this direction or not.”